The Five C's Of Cinematography

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A book by Mascelli, J. V. called The Five C’s of Cinematography reveals the filming techniques of a motion picture. It is one of the most significant and influential book on filmmaking ever printed and the Five C’s which are Camera angles, Continuity, Cutting, Close-ups and composition; helps readers understand why certain visual or technical choice would trump over others.

A Research article called Attention and the Evolution of Hollywood Film by Cutting, J. E., Delong, J. E., & Nothelfer has also contributed to this thesis.The authors of this research article have investigated over 150 films with release dates from 1935 to 2005 to study in detail what grabs an audience’s attention from a psychological and scientific point of view. These
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The data from analysis will then be organised and compared to prove the theory that the digital age has changed the way stories are told through film.


The research for this thesis is carried out by watching and analysing the chariot race sequence in the films Ben-Hur (1959) by director William Wyler and Ben-Hur (2016) by director Timur Bekmambetov. The analysis is based on the knowledge obtained from academic writings both in the form of books and online articles. First, I will discuss the cinematography between Ben-Hur (1959) and Ben-Hur (2016), then we will look at an analysis of the editing between the two films. Lastly, we observe the difference in sound mixing of the chariot race sequence in the third act of both films.


First I will discuss the difference in cinematography between the two films. A film consists of many different shots. Every single shot requires the best possible viewing angle to convey the narrative to the audience. This is cinematography, the science and art of motion photography. A shot is dynamic when the camera moves to depict a moving subject during the filming of a take. In the book, The Five C's of Cinematography, author Joseph Mascelli
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He also noted that the best shots on the curves were done using a specially built camera chariot with rubber tires.” pg1

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For this reason, the 1952 Ben-Hur film has very few cinematographically dynamic shots during the chariot race sequence. The cameras were mostly locked down and could only pan left and right. Occasionally we get some tracking shots where the cameras are placed on dollies or mounted onto the front of the chariots. Even though the coverage of the chariot sequence are basic, it is still effective in conveying the emotions when edited.

In terms of lighting, the chariot race sequence has harsh overhead lighting. In Rob Nixon’s article, it is stated that:

“Lighting scenes for the camera that had to be used for the larger format (then called Metro 65, later known as the Panavision process) also proved complicated. Light couldn't be brought in too close to the action since the camera was very sensitive to it, so scaffolding had to be built to place the lights farther away.”
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